By Mike Mount and Larry Shaughnessy, CNN
A photo of a listening device in a room where attorneys met with terror detainees at Guantanamo Bay caused a stir this month, but a senior military official says it is a relic from the days when interrogations occurred in the facility.
A military judge hearing the case against the September 11, 2001, terror mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others ordered the photo released earlier this month.
The device baffled defense lawyers who speak with their Guantanamo clients in the room where the device, which looks like a smoke detector, was hanging.
One of the top military lawyers for the Gitmo detention facility said he looked into the matter and found no one was listening in on privileged conversations, The Miami Herald reported.FULL STORY
By Larry Shaughnessy
Attorney-client privilege is a bedrock legal principle.
But on Monday, a U.S. military commission released a photo of what appeared to be an ordinary smoke detector on the ceiling of a room where attorneys met with terror detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The smoke detector was actually a listening device that could have been used to eavesdrop on conversations that were supposed to be private.
But the Miami Herald reported that one of the top military lawyers for the Gitmo detention facility said he looked into the matter as soon as he learned about it and found that no one was listening in on privileged conversations.
A military judge hearing the case against accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others ordered the photo released.
By Jennifer Rizzo
Federal prisons and Defense Department correctional facilities in the U.S. would need myriad operational changes if detainees held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were transferred into the country, according to a Congressional investigative report released Wednesday.
However, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat who ordered the report in 2008, touted it as proof the U.S. prison system could handle the detainees, many of whom are accused of terrorist acts.
"This report demonstrates that if the political will exists, we could finally close Guantanamo without imperiling our national security," Feinstein said.
According to the Government Accountability Office report, there are six Defense Department facilities within the U.S. and more than 2,000 facilities holding individuals convicted of federal crimes that could hold Gitmo detainees.
The report found that many issues would need to be considered if those detainees were transferred to one of the facilities located in the U.S.
By Bill Mears
A federal judge used tough language to block efforts by the Obama administration to limit the legal rights of terror suspects held at the GuantanamoBay military prison inCuba, ruling Thursday that proposed changes were an "illegitimate exercise of executive power."
Officials of the departments of Justice and Defense had claimed they alone should decide when the prisoners deserve regular access to their attorneys.
But in a 32-page ruling, Judge Royce Lamberth said federal courts had proper authority to decide the matter, and criticized the executive branch for recently changing the procedures, when he said the current system was working well.
"The old maxim 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' would seem to caution against altering a counsel-access regime that has proven safe, efficient, and eminently workable," said Lamberth. "Indeed," he added, "the government had no answer when the court posed this question in oral arguments" last month.
"Access to the courts means nothing without access to counsel," added the judge.
Justice Department lawyers said they have started restricting when Guantanamo prisoners could challenge their detention in the Washington-based federal court. If approved, any relaxing of the rules would be made on a case-by-case basis at the exclusive discretion of military officials, not by the courts.
The chief judge for the Guantanamo Bay military commissions has assigned himself to preside over the trial of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammad and four other men. Army Col. James Pohl will preside over the arraignment of the five suspected terrorists beginning on May 5.
Mohammad, Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin 'Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi are accused of the "planning and execution of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa., resulting in the killing of 2,976 people," a Defense Department statement said. The charges include murder in violation of the law of war, attacking civilians and civilian objects, hijacking aircraft and terrorism.
If convicted, all five suspects could face the death penalty.
Pohl is already presiding over the trial of Rahim al Nashiri, the only other military commission trial underway at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He's also been involved in the criminal cases stemming from the Abu Ghraib scandal and was the investigating officer in the case of Maj. Nidal Hasan, the man accused of killing of 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.
By CNN's Pam Benson
Ten years after the arrival of the first prisoners captured by U.S. forces after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will likely be in business for many more years - perhaps decades - to come, analysts say.
For the 171 detainees still there, the future is bleak.
GITMO - as the detention facility is commonly known - would have been emptied two years ago under a proposal introduced by President Barack Obama. Just days after his 2009 inauguration, the president announced his plan to close the facility within a year and ordered a review to determine which detainees could be criminally prosecuted, which ones were safe to transfer to other countries, and what should be done with individuals who could not be tried but were too dangerous to transfer.